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Batavia football season preview

Batavia’s Kyle Niemiec greets a teammate during their first day of practice at the school.
Batavia’s Kyle Niemiec greets a teammate during their first day of practice at the school.


The glory days could well continue. Batavia brings a proven pass rush, imposing offensive line and plenty of team speed to its Class 6A title defense.

Defensively, Noah Frazier and Josh Leonhard intend to continue wreaking havoc at the line of scrimmage while fellow returnees such as linebacker Jake Hlava and safety Nick Bernabei also seek to build off quality junior years. Bernabei looks to take over leadership in the secondary.

"I have to talk to my corners, talk to the linebackers, be more of the vocal communicator on defense," Bernabei said.

Linebacker Joey Gross and cornerback Eddie Golden project to take on much larger roles defensively as seniors.

Offensively, the Bulldogs have a strong foundation up front with returning starters Jack Breshears (Florida Atlantic recruit), Mitch Krusz (coming off late-season ACL injury) and Patrick Gamble.

"We're very solid up front," Batavia coach Dennis Piron said. "That gives yourself the chance to maybe make a little mistake here or there. Our pass protection has been so good against a really good pass rush in camp."

Which quarterback benefits from that line remains to be seen as lefty Evan Acosta and Kyle Niemiec each earned extended looks.

"I think week in and week out there's going to be a competition at that position because both of those kids have worked so hard and done such a nice job in practice and in camp," Piron said. "There might be a clear leader on Friday nights, who knows, but as of right now we're comfortable with either one of those young men leading our team."

Piron projects the latest Coffey boy to ascend through the program – junior receiver Canaan Coffey – to be "a breakout player in the league this year." Elsewhere, Piron's son, Peyton, seeks to build off his track season momentum, while Jonathan Shubert, Cole Stokke and Nick Stuttle all are challenging for time in a receiving corps hit hard by graduation.

Speedy senior running back Blake Crowder saw much of his action with the game well in hand last year but will need to help Batavia set the tone in the aftermath of Anthony Scaccia's graduation, while junior Zach Garrett also figures into the running back rotation along with power backs Hlava and Frazier. 

2-Minute Drill

Coach: Dennis Piron (34-3, fourth season)

2013 record: 13-1 overall, 6-0 UEC River. Won IHSA Class 6A state championship.

Fast fact: Senior offensive linemen Jacob Halters (jersey No. 57) and Justin Halters (No. 58) are identical twins.

Special teams spotlight: Kicker Howie Morgano returns for Batavia and "his leg just looks fantastic," according to Piron, while Canaan Coffey and Josh Leonhard "both can boom the ball" as punters.

Bottom line: Batavia again has more than its share of menacing presences defensively and an O-line that should allow the Bulldogs to thrive running the football. If the less established personnel in the passing game can punish defenses for swarming the line of scrimmage, it becomes another sky's the limit season in B-Town.

Memory banked: "The Lake Forest game in the quarterfinals. It was just a classic, ground and pound, smashmouth football game, real close, came down to the wire. It was awesome." Mitch Krusz, senior offensive lineman

2014 schedule

Aug. 29  vs. Oswego  7:30 p.m.

Sept. 5  at Glenbard North  7:30 p.m.

Sept. 12  vs. Larkin  7:30 p.m.

Sept. 19  at St. Charles East  7:30 p.m.

Sept. 26  vs. St. Charles North  7:30 p.m.

Oct. 3  at West Chicago  7:30 p.m.

Oct. 10  at Elgin  7:30 p.m.

Oct. 17  vs. Geneva  7:30 p.m.

Oct. 24  vs. Streamwood  7:30 p.m.

Marquee matchup: vs. Geneva, Oct. 17. Batavia has owned the UEC River during Piron's three seasons at the helm. The Bulldogs wrestled local supremacy from Geneva, and this year's meeting could be the most competitive between the archrivals in quite some time, with a potential conference four-peat likely in the balance.

2013 results

Aug. 30 Glenbard North W, 29-26

Sept. 6 Richards L, 31-26

Sept. 13 Geneva W, 49-20

Sept. 21 Streamwood W. 56-14

Sept. 27 West Chicago W, 48-7

Oct. 5 Larkin W, 46-14

Oct. 11 St. Charles North W, 44-7

Oct. 18 St. Charles East W, 47-14

Oct. 25 Elgin W, 62-14

Nov. 1 DeKalb W, 48-6

Nov. 9 Rolling Meadows W, 48-13

Nov. 16 Lake Forest W, 19-14

Nov. 23 Rockford Boylan W, 38-6

Nov. 30 Richards W, 34-14

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